The man who ran El Bulli, the world's most acclaimed restaurant, for 30 years has stepped down from the culinary foundation he headed because of illness, the restaurateur's family said in a statement.

Juli Soler, the maitre d who discovered and signed up top chef Ferran Adria, has left the El Bulli Foundation after being diagnosed with a neuro-degenerative disease, the statement said Friday.

Since his arrival at El Bulli in 1981, Soler became an essential figure in what became one of the world's most influential restaurants.

Alongside Adria, he revolutionized diners' experiences to the point that El Bulli maintained the almost unattainable Michelin three-star status for over a decade and was rated the world's best restaurant five times by British magazine The Restaurant. El Bulli closed last year.